Brides of the Middle Ages were no different than the brides of today. Renaissance weddings were a time for celebration and feasting. Adorning the happy couple’s wedding table were almonds, apples, three leaf clovers, pansies, citrus fruits, roses and herbs. Silken cloth and woven tapestries were draped on the table, along with silver, gold and pewter being used as part of the table dressing.
Apples – Cut in half during the wedding celebration with the bride and groom each eating half. Cutting of the apple in half meant the joys and sorrows of marriage would always be shared equally.
Three leaf clover- A symbol of the Trinity, the clover was a symbol of protection for the household, bestowing blessings of prosperity, joy, long marriage, with good fortune and long life.
Pansies ~ Pansies symbolized memories, loving thoughts, yearnings for love. During the Renaissance, pansies were used in salads, deserts, and main courses, as well as for garnishes and table decorations. Renaissance brides often carried a simple bouquet of pansies tied together with scarlet ribbon. The people of this time insisted the flowers exquisite colors came from Cupid himself, who reportedly shot arrows into dozens of white pansies, thus forever changing its color to multi-hues.
Roses – Representing love, sexual love, secrecy and joy. White roses represented purity. Red awakened passions. Yellow roses awakened love, while peach roses meant joy, and the pale pink rose was given in secrecy.
Citrus fruits ~ Oranges and lemons were costly and rare in the Renaissance period. Sliced thinly, sprinkled with honey and eaten by the bride and groom. Oranges for fidelity and lemons for togetherness.
Herbs – Brides tucked a few sprigs of fresh mint in their wedding gowns, believing it helped to flame the groom’s desire for them. Sage leaves were tired together in small bundles and adorned the backs of the wedding chairs. Sage for wisdom and long life. Something I’m sure the happy couple hoped for. Love would last forever for the medieval bride and groom if they dipped a sprig of rosemary, known for its power of fidelity, into their wine goblets before drinking.
My favorite Shakespeare Sonnet 116:
“Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments.Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove;
O, no ! it is an ever fixed mark,
That looks on tempests, and is never shaken…”
~ Meadow Walker